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Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release July 24, 1996


The United States strongly condemns recent massacres and the deepening cycle of ethnic violence in Burundi. We urge all groups and individuals to use peaceful and constitutional means to overcome their disputes. Continued violence only serves to enhance the role of extremist forces that must not be allowed to set the agenda.

We are also concerned by calls for a change in government through non-constitutional means. The United States will not support a government installed by force or intimidation and reiterates that it will work actively to isolate any such regime.

The Arusha Declaration, agreed last month by the Burundi President, Prime Minister and Minister of Defense, as well as by leaders of regional states under the mediation of former Tanzanian President Julius Nyerere remains the best avenue to bring stability to Burundi. It is also imperative that parallel political talks among all armed factions leading to a lasting political settlement begin immediately. This should be accompanied by an immediate cessation of hostilities by all armed elements.

The United States is firmly committed to a peaceful resolution to the crisis in Burundi. For more than a year, the United States has led contingency planning efforts at the United Nations and tomorrow will initiate discussions at the UN on a detailed plan prepared by the U.S. to cope with a possible humanitarian disaster. We recently restated the U.S. offer of strategic airlift and related assistance to support an international response to a humanitarian crisis in Burundi. National Security Advisor Anthony Lake has visited Bujumbura twice, most recently in May, to urge reconciliation and demonstrate concern over increasing violence. The President last month appointed Howard Wolpe as Special Envoy for Burundi Peace Negotiations and dispatched an 11-person military team to the region to assist with planning efforts related to the Arusha Declaration.

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